Scrap Metal at Cambridge Iron and Metal Recycling Center at O’Donnell & S. Haven

Scrap Metal at Cambridge Iron and Metal Recycling Center at O'Donnell & S. HavenFinally, I had an afternoon free enough to ride a bicycle around, so after work and talk and work, I took the Surly out for a ride. We went down the hill with traffic and then a left and a right and a left again to Fells Point and past all the new construction, gravel pits ringed by facade walls saved for history. A quck snack and I was off again, toward Patterson Park for loops with seemingly all the dogs and babies in Baltimore, plus soccer and softball and kickball leagues, all divided by age and race and income, it seemed. I headed east through Highlandtown and the dead end at Haven Street, which leades to all the really good stuff, like this, piles and piles of discarded metal bits and sheets, from what, I’m not sure, but cameras are watching, so don’t even think about it. I went under an underpass, no idea where I would shoot out, and rode around a development ringed by its own gravel pits, surprised to find the kickball demographic there. We had talked in my class that day about how places are temporary resolutions of struggle, and I wondered what will happen as that demographic hits up against the manufacturing corridor, and who will have to move where. I’m guessing the heavy metal that has been piling up since 1909 will be a hard limit, but you never know. And then I was in Greektown, found again. I pedaled back toward home on signed bike routes and a date for pizza with friends, happy to have been lost, if only for a short bit. Getting lost feels like home, and its good to be here.

White Picket Fence and Houses at Orville & Chase

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I am still under the weather with a pesky cold probably picked up from my germy students, but I’m leaving town without my bicycles for much of the next two weeks, so I had to get a decent ride in today to stave off the fussiness that takes over when I can’t pedal about. I headed down the hill and took a left on Biddle to see where it would dead end. I finally ran into Edison Highway, took my right, and then a quick left and past stacks and stacks and stacks of something-I think roofing material-and one of Baltimore City’s storage and repair facilities for city vehicles. The snowplows are out on the street, but I’m assuming that’s for show, because I’m not ready for snow. I followed the dead end signs to the dead end, got off my bike, and walked us around the barrier. A couple guys were working an a car. They popped their heads up, and one said, “If you’ve made it this far, you’re almost home.” It took me a few minutes of riding around the neighborhood to figure out what he meant: I had survived black neighborhoods and was home in the white neighborhood. Shudder. The lawn signs were all No on 6 (our same-sex marriage act), and though I’m certainly no fan of aligning life chances with the arbitrary achievement of grabbing a supposedly permanent monogamous romantic relationship (that we do that is so weird, if you think about it), those signs are really just voting no on queers existing. Nothing but bigotry, really, and this white picket fence is just putting lipstick on that pig. This was Armistead Homes, formerly public housing turned into co ops after war housing was no longer needed. They can vote on who is allowed to live there, and surprise, surprise, the neighborhood is over 87% white. I rode around but quickly found my way out and snakes through Northeast Baltimore until I was back in the segregated neighborhoods that have become familiar to me in my regular rides. And then I was on Gough, Lombard, Pratt and Fait~though not in that order~and I was back in Fells Point, a quick stop at the gym, and up the hill to home. It was a good ride that left me thinking about the difference between the fates of public housing complexes~much to learn there. Good thing I get to teach about it next semester. I wonder how long I’d have to live here before finding this little northeast neighborhood if I didn’t ride my bike around aimlessly.

Lit Up Rat at the Lantern Parade in Patterson Park

S. got her bike new wheels and cables and brakes after it got stripped earlier this year, which means S. has a bike now. That means we can ride bikes together places–this is most excellent news! Tonight she came over in her cow suit with a skeleton suit for me, and we got to zip down the hill and to the left for the Lantern Parade in Patterson Park. Continue reading

Battle Monument at Calvert & Fayette

Today was bike tour day, so I woke up early, kinda nervous, and reviewed my notes for our six-stop tour of historic War of 1812 sites in the city before bringing Brompty downstairs for a good ride over to our starting point at Riverside Park, one of the oldest parks in Baltimore. A small group gathered, and we made our way over to Sharp-Leadenhall, where I talked about the history of African Americans in the early Republic, and especially in this neighborhood, the oldest African American neighborhood in the city. Continue reading

Wooden House at Wolfe & Aliceanna

As you might know if you read this blog, I love riding my bike, and I also love local history, so you can imagine my glee when E. asked if I’d like to help lead a bicycle tour of historic War of 1812 sites in Baltimore in September. Um, yes! My not-so-secret desire is to someday be a park ranger, so it seems like bicycle tour guide can only be good experience for a late-in-life career change. Continue reading

Fluid Movement’s Water Ballet at Patterson Park Pool at Linwood & Pratt

Today’s ride took me down the hill and to the left to Patterson Park to meet friends for this year’s water ballet from Fluid Movement. I moved to Baltimore a week after the water ballet last year, and B. & G. were so sorry I was going to miss it, but now it’s this year, and I live in Baltimore now, so this time around I went to the water ballet. Nice. Continue reading

Litter Pooling in the Tiny Lake in Patterson Park

As the guy stopped next to me at the light on 25th & Guilford said, 15 degrees cooler makes it almost fun to ride our bikes again, and it did. I headed out to run an errand and then just kept riding, enjoying the feel of a regular summer day. I zipped down the hill and over through Little Italy and Fells Point, through Patterson Park and over through Canton to Brewer’s Hill for some iced tea with my writing. Continue reading